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Keep It Simple: Collaboration Lessons from Coaching Kids

Andy blog - soccer imageAs an enthusiastic football (U.S. translation: soccer) fan, I watch my two young sons playing youth-football every week. Not surprisingly it was only a matter of time before someone asked me to help coach. To keep up the pretence I actually knew something about football; I started scanning around for coaching tips and drills.  After a while I came across an e- book called “KISS: Keep it Simple Soccer: How to coach youth soccer” by John Fraher.

In it is a quote from legendary Dutch footballer, Ruud Krol:  “Michels [coach] taught us always that simple football is the best. It is also very difficult to play simple football.”

This got me thinking about the oft-quoted business principle “Keep It Simple, Stupid” and how it applies to collaboration technologies.

I’ve only been focused on marketing midsize collaboration solutions for a few months. Already I’m delighted by stories I hear from our customers talking about how our solutions enable their teams to work in new and exciting ways.

But I occasionally hear people say things like, “that’s all great for large enterprises, but it’s too complex” or “it’s not affordable for small to medium sized businesses.”

Well, the good news is that is not the case. We’re simplifying things.  And there are many examples of smaller organizations using collaboration technology to bring people together, with amazing results.  Take Switzerland’s 60-employee Intercantonal Reinsurance, which is seeing a 10-20% improvement in employee efficiency with Cisco Business Edition 6000.

I’ve worked in midsized businesses for a large part of my career. The relevance of collaboration technology and the opportunities it offers for growing businesses are just as great as for larger enterprises – if not greater. Read More »

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A Pervasive Video Experience Is an Integrated Experience

March 14, 2014 at 9:25 am PST

Video is a hot topic for Cisco collaboration right now. On Wednesday, we announced a series of new products that help businesses of every size make high-quality video accessible to every employee. At Enterprise Connect next week in Orlando, Florida, Rowan Trollope, who leads Cisco’s Collaboration Technology Group, will be a keynote speaker and discuss why video is so important to the collaboration experience and the new way we work.

In fact, many other companies are also seeing the high value of video to the enterprise today and are entering the video market. With so many options to choose from, how do you determine the right video solution for your company? I’d say it depends on a number of things:  the experience you are seeking, the business results you want to achieve, and how flexible you need your collaborative architecture to be.

For example, would you like to do real-time video communications with your customers using WebRTC? Do you plan to put on webcasts and virtual events at your company to save on travel costs?  Will you deploy private or hybrid cloud models to achieve more architectural agility? Are mobile video apps part of your BYOD strategy? Maybe you would like to do all of these things.

An important part of achieving an exceptional collaboration experience is integration. For users to have a productive and seamless experience, you must implement a fully converged solution and take steps to ensure user adoption. Cisco Services helps that “delightful” experience emerge on a browser or in the boardroom by putting technology and complexity in the background.

The integrated video experience Read More »

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Creating the Next Generation of Collaboration Experiences

If you’ve been following Cisco Collaboration recently, you’ve probably noticed we’ve been changing things up…and I don’t mean just a little. Truth is, we’ve been busy completely reimagining collaboration and setting the foundation for a revolution in the industry.

We’re listening to users who have told us that they are frustrated with today’s tools and, more importantly, these tools limit their ability to work the way they want.  We are building collaboration tools that are simple, elegant and beautiful. Tools that get out of the way, reduce friction and let you work the way you want.

I am proud of the technology we announced today.  It represents the largest single change to Cisco’s collaboration portfolio since the initial launch of TelePresence and every stitch of it meets the “new Cisco Collaboration standards”—meaning you will love the attention to detail and want to use it.

We have an uncompromising approach to the user experience that includes the delivery of incredible video experiences from the boardroom to the browser and all the spaces in between. Cisco’s affordable endpoints for spaces and organizations of all sizes and all use cases will make that happen. And when we can get these experiences into the hands of users, amazing things will occur.  We truly believe that these next gen tools will let users work the way they want to work.

As proud as we are of these new offerings, here’s the very best part:  Read More »

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Clouds Are Everywhere, But Which Cloud for Collaboration?

Which cloud is best for Collaboration?  Simple -- the one that fits your needs. With so many cloud options out there offering a variety of different services, it’s easy to get confused. When making a decision, consider what is essential to collaboration in your business. How do users want to experience the services? What are their needs?  Let’s break it down using me as a use case:

  • Conversations & Conferencing -- I am heavily reliant on voice and video. I need it on all my devices, with no compromises on availability, security or quality.  About 40% of my day is spent in web or video conferences, with one or many people  (I guess this is why WebEx is the second largest business SaaS service!).  For me, I must have a reliable service that performs regardless of how it is deployed.  If my company has chosen the cloud for strategic or financial reasons then that is kind of irrelevant to me – I just want it to work…  and work well.
  • Email, IM and Content -- IM enables me to get information when I need it.  If not, I typically get it from a document sharing space.  Happily, I am spending less time in email these days.  So for these types of collaboration tools I am more interested in what the cloud has to offer.  Decisions made by IT have a material impact on me and my working environment.  Here at Cisco I jump at the chance to be on a trial or pilot of a new technology.  Not only do I get to play with all the new toys, I get ahead of the pack and get access to new productivity tools that make me more effective…  they help me.
  • Customer Services -- I like to choose how and when I interact with people.  I also like to help myself first, and then call out for help as required.  So I like to do business with organizations that allow me to do this.  If they don’t, I generally try to avoid doing business with them.

For most organizations, Read More »

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Staying Ahead of the Collaboration Requirements Curve

March 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm PST

In my last blog I talked about how optimization is shifting from a post-deployment activity to a regularly scheduled maintenance priority. Have we seen this shift in action? Yes, and it makes a big difference in how well your IT team can stay ahead of the curve to keep up with changing business requirements.

Case in point: A financial services company had teams all over the world, and conferencing was part of the company’s culture. Because of the popularity of video conferencing, conference rooms had to be scheduled hours or even days in advance. Wait times like these were unacceptable for urgent meetings. For a sales team, meeting delays can literally be a deal breaker. That’s why this financial services company decided to add on-demand video conferencing to its collaboration tools.

Responding quickly to unanticipated needs like this requires an understanding of the performance capabilities of your collaboration infrastructure. If you’ve taken a systemic approach to your collaboration performance, you’ll not only be able to respond to new requirements but you’ll be able to anticipate them.

This customer used Cisco’s Collaboration Optimization Services to keep their collaboration solution running at Read More »

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